40th Anniversary of Armenian Studies and Professor Hovannisian’s Contributions to The Field

LOS ANGELES–Professor Richard G. Hovannisian–holder of the Armenian Educational Foundation Chair in Modern Armenian History–will be honored in a celebration marking both the fortieth year of his activity in the field and of the establishmen’s of Armenian Studies at UCLA as well as the completion of the fifteenth year of the AEF Chair.

The Jubilee Banquet will take place at the Hilton Universal Hotel–555 Universal Hotel–555 Universal Terrace Parkway–Universal City–CA–on November 9–2001–beginning at 7:00 P.M. State Senator Charles Poochigian will serve as the Master if Ceremonies.

"This celebration offers the Armenian community the opportunity to acknowledge the important work and accomplishmen’s of the AEF Chair in Modern Armenian History and its present occupant–Professor Richard Hovannisian," said banquet co-chair Dr. Sahag Baghdasarian. Fifteen years ago–Richard Hovannisian–having achieved the esteem of an established scholar–a dedicated teacher–the author of numerous books and research articles–honored many times for his scholarship–civic activities–and advancement of Armenian Studies–was selected the first holder of the AEF Chair in Modern Armenian History. During its fifteen-year history–the Chair has become an important component of the academic program at UCLA and in the Diaspora through its undergraduate and graduate programs and as a center of learning and dissemination of information and knowledge about critical issues in Armenian History.

"The public lectures–exhibits–and conferences sponsored by the AEF Chair have offered the community a deeper understanding of important current issues from the Armenian Question and Genocide to the Karabakh movement and renewed Armenian independence," noted banquet co-chair Mina Shirvanian. The semiannual international conferences–each dedicated to the history–culture–and traditions of the historic cities and provinces in Western Armenia–have prompted important research on various areas and aspects of the Armenian past. They have promoted awareness and have revived the Armenian historic homeland for the large number of attendees–inspiring pride and a deep consciousness of the enormity of the crime of 1915 and the resulting loss. The proceedings of each conference are being published–with each valuable addition to Armenian scholarship in the Diaspora and an accessible source of knowledge for present and future generations.

Richard Hovannisian is a native of Tulare–California–the third of four sons born to Kasper and Siroon Hovannisian–originating in the province of Kharpert. Hovannisian attended Tulare city schools and graduated with a B.A. and M.A. degrees in History for the University of California Berkeley. He received his Ph.D. degree in Russian and Near Eastern History at UCLA–with his dissertation on the subject of Armenia’s road to independence between 1914 and 1918.

Hovannisian formally entered the field of Armenian Studies in 1960 when he was called upon by the founding director of the UCLA Center for Near Eastern Studies–Gustave von Grunebaum–to introduce Armenian history and culture classes through an extension program in Fresno. Then employed by the Fresno City Schools–he taught the UCLA classes on the campus of Fresno State College.

In 1962–Richard Hovannisian was invited by von Grunebaum as a lecturer in Armenian on the UCLA campus–where Armenian classes had begun in 1960 with visiting lecturers–Kevork Sarafian–A.O. Sarkisian–and Louise Nalbandian. Hovannisian developed the Armenian History classes at UCLA while completing his Ph.D. and then remained a lecturer in Armenian while also serving as Associate Professor of History at Mount St. Mary’s College. In 1969–he joined the UCLA faculty as a tenured faculty member and rose to the rank of full professor in 1972 and then to the highest distinguished professorial rank in the 1990’s. In 1965 Avedis Sanjian joined the UCLA faculty in Armenian Language and Literature and in 1969 was appointed to what is now named the Narekatsi Chair in Armenian Language and Literature. These developmen’s grounded Armenian Studies at UCLA with two Endowed Chairs.

At UCLA–Professor Hovannisian developed the undergraduate course offering and initiated the Ph.D. program in Armenian History. Through the years he has directed the theses and dissertations of M.A. and Ph.D. students in Armenian History and has served on the committee of all the students in the Ph.D. program in Armenian Language and Literature. His primary subject of research and publication throughout his academic career is the history of the first independent Armenian republic–a complex story told in great detail in five volumes. He has also edited and contributed to ten other books–including three in the Armenian Genocide

Richard Hovannisian is a Guggenheim Fellow and has received numerous awards and recognitions for his scholarship. He was awarded the Mesrob Mashtots Medal by His Holiness Karekin I in 1984 and was elected to the Armenian National Academy of Sciences in 1990–becoming the first social scientist living abroad to be granted the honor. He has been awarded honorary doctoral degrees by Yerevan State University and by Artsakh State University and the medal of Movses Khorenatsi by the Republic of Armenia.

"The Armenian Educational Foundation takes pride in having supported Professor Richard G. Hovannisian’s endeavors in the field of Armenian Studies," stated AEF president Neshan Peroomian. To make the Jubilee Banquet an event worthy of the honoree–a special committee made up of representatives of a cross-section of Southern California Armenian community has been formed. The committee promises a memorable evening during which students–colleagues–and community and civic leaders will share their sentimen’s and present Richard Hovannisian as they know him.

Persons wishing to participate in this combines anniversary celebration of forty years of Armenian Studies and of Professor Richard Hovannisian at UCLA and of the completion of the fifteenth year of the AEF Chair should secure their places very soon.

For reservations and ticket information please call the AEF office at (818)242-4151.

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